Russia is recruiting thousands of soldiers in the war against ukraine, but putin’s public support is decreasing

(Erik Burakovsky, Assistant Director, Russia and Eurasia Program, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University)

Boston, Oct 13 (The Conversation) Russia may have intensified its offensive on Ukraine, but its military is grappling with casualties and shortages in military equipment/material supplies.

Significantly, on October 11, 2022, a group of seven countries — America, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Britain — called an emergency meeting and opposed Russia’s latest attacks on Ukraine.

Russia’s latest attack began on October 9, 2022, targeting civilian infrastructure and various cities in Ukraine. This could be a more gruesome phase of the ongoing war between the two countries for almost eight months.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, took notice of his low number of troops and approved a partial draft on September 21, 2022, allowing the recruitment/deployment of an additional 300,000 troops, long before the attack on Ukraine began. . Many experts, however, consider it an illegal attack. So far, according to the information received from Russia, about 2,00,000 new soldiers have been recruited in the army.

Putin’s draft has created a new wave of discontent among the people of Russia. Thousands of Russian citizens are fleeing the country. There have even been violent attacks on several military recruitment centers in Russia.

The Kremlin has been trying to quell protests against military enlistment and has arrested more than 2,400 protesters.

Meanwhile, Putin and the “Special Military Operations” (Ukraine War) are getting majority support, according to a referendum conducted by Russia’s top independent voting group, the Levada Centre.

But as a scholar of Russian affairs and public opinion, I think public acceptance of the president and the attack on Ukraine is changing in light of mobilization, as more families are torn apart by hostility.

Since the start of the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the attitude of most Russian citizens towards it has been sympathetic or indifferent. The public quickly turned to Putin on the matter, and the war quickly became a part of everyday life for Russian citizens.

About 50 percent of Russian citizens have consistently said during the referendum that they ‘strongly’ support Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, while 30 percent would ‘choose to support’ it over the other option, and only 20 percent. There are those who do not support this military campaign.

The people of Russia have largely accepted this war under an unwritten social contract with the Kremlin, in which people obey the rule and in return they get things like better living conditions and minimum interference in private life.

Russian citizens generally like to listen/watch war news reported by Russian state media, they stay away from negative news coming from other sources.

On September 20, 2022, when Russia took control of four regions of eastern and southern Ukraine, Putin publicly referred to Russia’s “Western enemies” in his speech. He accused Western countries of helping “Kyiv’s power” and carrying out “inhuman terrorist attacks” in Ukraine’s Donbass region. By doing this Putin tried to justify the hardships of war and tried to show that the people of Russia are fighting for their existence.

The people of Russia still firmly believe that Western countries are aggressive towards them and that this war is for self-defense. In August 2022, 71 percent of those surveyed said they had negative views of the US and 66 percent had negative views of Ukraine.

Some sociologists, however, argue that referendums in Russia may not be entirely reliable because of the many factors involved.

The Conversation Arpana Prashant

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